Asthma and nasal problems

Man with inhaler Image courtesy of Mister GC at

Asthma and nasal problems and allergies  – it’s not just your genes and environment playing a part! Surgery and medications are not the only or complete solutions.

Like all asthma sufferers, you have faulty breathing habits that cause, aggravate, and/or perpetuate symptoms.

Through breathing retraining you can change the way you breathe and breathe calmly and effortlessly again.

The link with your breathing pattern

Faulty breathing habits underlie asthma, hayfever, and chronic nasal problems, such as stuffiness, congestion, runny nose, and post-nasal drip. People with these problems characteristically ‘overbreathe’ – either through the mouth or through the nose.

Research shows people with asthma breathe 2-3 times more air per minute than is normal.1 Normal is 5 L/min; the average seen in people with asthma is 14 L/min.

Some of the problems with overbreathing:

  • dehydration, irritation, inflammation, excessive mucus in the airways
  • loss of the body’s naturally produced bronchodilator – carbon dioxide
  • stimulation of the mast cells to release histamine – the allergic response

Overbreathing is often not obvious. For example, breathing faster or through your mouth or with your upper chest while you watch television, work at your desk, or drive your car can easily increase your air intake above what is normal. Breathing 20 times a minute will double your air intake compared to someone breathing a normal 10 breaths per minute.

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RESEARCH: At least 20 clinical trials have been conducted on the effects of the Buteyko Method of breathing retraining in the management of asthma and nasal problems. It is consistently found to be safe and effective in  reducing symptoms and the need for medication.
A study conducted through Mater Hospital in Brisbane showed a 71% reduction in symptoms and average 96% reduction in bronchodilator and 49% reduction in steroid use.   ‘Buteyko breathing techniques in asthma: a controlled trial’. Bowler SD, Green A, Mitchell CA. MJA. 1988; 169: 575–578.
CASE STUDY:  Mark, age 30, had asthma since he was five years old. He was on a combination (preventer/bronchodilator) medication and needed in addition 8-10 puffs of his reliever every day. He had been a keen cross country runner but had given it away because of his asthma. In the first week of breathing retraining he needed to use his reliever just once. On the fifth day, his breathing control was good enough for us to tackle a steep hill together. Soon after he felt confident to get back into his sport.[/feature_box]

Self-help resources

Online Breathing Course – BreatheAway

Instructor – Tess Graham. Facilitator – Tracey Anderson Askew.

Books and Audio products

Tess has developed an online course  and published two books and a companion audio product on breathing retraining, with clear information and a simple, practical, step-by-step program to follow.

Note: While the books are specifically written for people with sleep-breathing and anxiety issues, the information, strategies and step-by-step breathing training program in each book is also of help to people with asthma, nasal problems, chronic cough, breathlessness: and poor exercise capacity.

Take the Faulty Breathing Quiz.

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Even though no study has indicated exactly why Buteyko is so effective at controlling asthma, if a drug could show these results, then it is likely that it would be used widely in asthma control.    ‘Effect of Buteyko breathing technique on patients with bronchial asthma’, Hassana ZM, Riadb NM and Ahmedc FH. Egyptian Journal of Chest Diseases and Tuberculosis. 2012; 61(4): 235–241
An evaluation by Limerick University Hospital in Ireland of 26 people with a diagnosis of asthma and chronic rhinitis, showed a 71% reduction of rhinitis symptoms in asthma at three month follow up. ‘Role of Buteyko breathing technique in asthmatics with nasal symptoms’,    Adelola OA, Oosthuiven JC, Fenton JE. Clinical Otolaryngology. 2013, 38(2):190-191.
See Science for further published research showing the effectiveness of breathing retraining in the management of asthma and nasal problems.[/feature_box]

Image courtesy of Marin at

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